Celebrity is a wonderful thing... unless the celebrity you're referring to is Bethany Frankel.
Back in the day, i.e. BK (Before Kardashian) "celebrity" meant someone who had become famous as a result of some noteworthy talent or deed. Great actors, musicians, even scientists like Einstein were 'Celebrities' in their day BECAUSE THEY DID SOMETHING EXCEPTIONAL.
Of course now, we dispense with that exhausting and sometimes harrowing requirement and just cut straight to the fame.
Charles Lindberg had to fly a glorified crop duster all by himself across the frigid Atlantic to achieve his fame - WHAT A SUCKER! Today, he could get the same Pub by throwing a glass of wine into a botoxed face at a reality dinner.
Luckily, even in today's jaded world of Housewives, Bachelors & Yokels who's only talent is being repulsive, bigoted and/or conniving enough to attract a camera crew long enough to cut together a completely fabricated reality show focused on what passes for their 'lives,' there are still some bonafide celebrities actually DOING OR MAKING SOMETHING original and interesting.
Of course, I'm not saying that a Red Carpet event for a new Housewife clothing line isn't worth 7 breathless minutes of televised InfoTainment pandering... I'm typing it. I tried just saying it out loud, but not enough people heard me.
Top of my current list is Dick Van Dyke. This guy's been a "Celebrity" since the early 1960's.
A song and dance man from Broadway, then the central pivot for arguably the best SitCom in TV history, then a bona fide Movie Star. A man with NOTHING left to prove as a performer, and every reason to just sit on the sidelines and enjoy the fruits of his 50 years of talented labor.
Instead, this 87 year old woke up early on Thanksgiving day to PERSONALLY serve dinner to thousands of homeless addicts and families at Los Angeles' The Midnight Mission.
I watched for two solid hours as he worked the crowd, chatting, handing out food and posing for photos, all without ever dimming that famous smile. The only time he stopped feeding and glad-handing was each time he spotted a solo woman dancing to the live band on the blocked off downtown street. That's when he'd put down his basket, and swoop her across the asphalt as if they were dancing on the streets of Mary Poppin's London. The looks on these homeless women's faces brought tears to my eyes. Momentarily caught in the wattage of his famous smile, they were magically transformed into Mary herself, effortlessly floating above the street, wrapped safely in the arms of their tanned, smiling Prince.
In short, Dick Van Dyke kicks ass... I talked to him our on weekly show about the Midnight, and the dark reason why he become involved with this life-changing organization. Worth a listen.
DeNiro, acknowledged as THE 'actor's actor,' has made a career by playing tortured, dangerous men in extraordinary circumstances. Sly, after creating an Oscar Winning film with nothing but a screenplay... and brass balls, took a more populist route, making genre films that invented new genres. Two more celebrities... with ACTUAL SKILLS.
I celebrate the fact that they are celebrated for actually DOING SOMETHING THAT NOT EVERYONE CAN DO. They work at their craft - we don't see the grind, because they're good at it, but trust me, they sweat.
For Christmas, these two mooks have come up with a surprising treat to leave under our collective tree: A Comedy. Yes, Rocky and Jake LaMotta are headlining a comedy about mortality, honor and hard work. DECADES after their separate but equally momentous triumphs in the Ring, they were back at work with trainers to shave off pounds and years.
And in what I believe is a media first, Sly does a hilarious impression of the man he refers to as "Mr. DeNiro"... when he's allowed to address him at all.
Lastly, I wish a Super Wonderful Holiday to all our CELEBRITIES, because...well, they deserve one. Just ask them.
For the rest of us, i hope you wake up with a Dick Van Dyke smile on Christmas morning.
I'll see you at A Fork on the Road.
Follow Mark DeCarlo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarkDeCarlo